2010 ACC Women's Basketball Legends: Jenny Boucek, Virginia

Feb. 15, 2010

The Atlantic Coast Conference celebrates its sixth annual class of ACC Women's Basketball Legends during the 2010 ACC Women's Basketball Tournament, March 4-7, at the Greensboro (N.C.) Coliseum. The honorees will be recognized during the ACC Legends Luncheon, as well as on the court at halftime of the first semifinal game on Saturday, March 6.

The ACC Women's Basketball Legends program honors past players from each of the ACC's 12 schools who have contributed to the league's rich tradition. Included in the class are 12 former student-athletes that represent four decades of ACC Women's Basketball competitors.

TheACC.com will feature three members of the 2010 ACC Legends Class each week (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays) during the final four weeks of the regular season.

Q&A with Jenny Boucek

Q: What was the most memorable game for you while playing at Virginia?

A: That one is easy. The triple overtime win in the ACC tournament in 1993 against Maryland. It was just great competition. At the end of every period there was a big shot. It was what you dream of as a competitor. Our team was at our best, and we brought out the best in each other.

Q: Does a specific game or team stand out as a special rivalry for your program?

A: For the time that I was there it was definitely North Carolina. We seemed to be competing for the championship each year, especially during the regular season.

Q: You were part of four ACC regular-season championship teams at Virginia and part of three Elite Eight teams. Can you talk about the amount of success the teams you were a part of had?

A: The program was in a good place. Dawn Staley, Dena Evans, the Burge twins, Tonya Cardoza, Tammi Reiss—they all had tremendous success. We were continuing the tradition that was started before us, and it was just a fun time for Virginia basketball.

Q: What has changed the most in ACC women’s basketball since your playing days?

A: Probably more parity. You look at this year is an example—you never know what’s going to happen. There are a lot of great teams. With expansion, it’s changed the dynamics a bit. It’s a great blend of legendary coaches—that have been at their programs for a long time and have done some great things—and young coaches.

Q: How well does the ACC prepare student-athletes for life after their playing days – whether in business or in their professional basketball careers?

A: Virginia prepared me as well as any school in the nation would have, I believe. The academics are top-notch. You also get a lot of life experiences because it is a public school that provides a very conducive environment for learning life skills. There’s a culture of excellence and class. Everybody I know that has been there, they carry that into life after basketball, because it is part of the Virginia culture.

Q: What were your playing experiences in the WNBA like?

A: It’s pretty hard to put into words because it was the inaugural season of the league (1997). There’s really no way to explain the power and impact of being part of that league at its inception. And the impact that it had on people, especially women. But the impact that it had emotionally on people, what it represented, what it represents to our culture, and especially for women, was incredible.

The WNBA is changing our culture and is contributing to changing trends, culturally speaking. Young girls have dreams. They have dreams and beliefs they didn’t have before, and young boys are growing up with different perceptions of women.

Playing against the greats, especially the first few years, there was a back-log of legends that were playing overseas that we’d never seen play. And I mean the great legends of our game. Getting the opportunity to play against those legends was a dream come true. It was an educational experience as well because they were so good and so mature in their game.

Q: You were the first person to be a player, assistant coach, and head coach in the WNBA when the Sacramento Monarchs hired you in 2007. What are the differences that you see between the three different segments?

A: I think there’s a lot of difference, but the great players see the game as a coach does, that every decision that they make is based on what’s best for the team’s success. That’s the difference between a lot of players and a coach. But there’s a similarity there that all great players have with and can share with their coach.

Q: Can you talk about the position you recently took with the Seattle Storm?

A: I am the Director of Player Development and Scouting. They called when they knew that position was available. I was with them when they won a championship, so there’s a good relationship there. I am responsible for bringing more talent to the staff and that franchise.

Q: What do you think the ACC audience should know?

A: What makes the ACC special, I think, is these are great academic and athletic schools, top-to-bottom. That’s what collegiate athletics are supposed to be about, and the ACC represents that as well as any other conference.

More about Jenny Boucek…

Jenny Boucek (Virginia, 1992-96) - A four-year starter for the University of Virginia's women's basketball team from 1992-96, Boucek helped lead the Cavaliers to four regular season Atlantic Coast Conference Championships and three NCAA Elite Eight appearances.

Boucek was a two-time GTE Academic All-American team member and two-time ACC selection. She twice earned team Defensive Player of the Year honors and finished her career at Virginia as a member of the 1,000-point club. Boucek competed in the U.S. Olympic Festival in 1993 and graduated with honors in 1997 with a degree in sports medicine and sports management.

She played professional basketball for two years before joining the coaching ranks. In 1997, the WNBA's inaugural season, Boucek was a member of the Cleveland Rockers. After the 1997 WNBA season ended, she played in Iceland in 1998 and was voted the country's best player after averaging 23 points, seven rebounds and six assists.

She returned to the Rockers in time for the 1998 season, but retired due to a career-ending back injury. The Nashville, Tenn., native then served as an assistant coach for various teams in the WNBA from 1999 to 2005. She was named as the head coach for the Sacramento Monarchs on November 15, 2006.